Keeping Your Digital Space Organized
BY CHRISTINE TORRES
Published January 14, 2021
So, you’ve done a great job reducing paper clutter. How does that desktop look? When was the last time you sat down and uncluttered your digital workspace? Digital organization of files on personal systems and shares ones takes a little time, consistency, and practicality. Scott Hammer of Striven hosts #USAMfgHour on Twitter this week and talks about how to stay calm and conduct a little reorganizing.
Break Free From Clutter
There are a lot of files to create and keep track of on a daily, weekly, and other routine bases. Sometimes there are files that are no longer being used, such as half-written blogs (guilty), memos from a meeting three years ago (guilty), and perhaps other files that went wayward (Who, me? Sigh, yes, again.). When was the last time you uncluttered your computer’s files? What led you to move things around, and what feeling did it leave you with afterward?
“Believe it or not, I began working on this project mid-December and ran into a little snafu when my external drive had a mechanical problem. It's certainly a timely question,” said security consultant Felix Nater of Nater Associates.
“I try to keep up with it pretty regularly. I enjoy the organization and makes life easier in the long run,” said Rico Equipment.
“It has prob been a few months,” said Artus Corporation. “The last time I did it was at the start of a new project, I had a lot of new files cluttering everything up.”
“I'm pretty good about decluttering my computer. I really despise unused or unwanted files,” said DSI/Dynamatic.
“I start but then I get sidetracked. I really do need to do it though,” said DSCI supply chain software.
“The last time I did that was last year. The last time I wanted to do that was this morning!,” said Obsidian Manufacturing. “I find it difficult to find the time to keep everything digitally organized on my computer.”
“We just got a new computer recently and decluttered everything,” said Chenango Valley Technologies. “It probably needs to be done again. It got a whole lot more organized. That is key to speed.”
“I try to stay as organized as possible and declutter often,” said marketing expert Paul Kiesche of Aviate Creative. “I get very busy and have way too many things to do and organization is a must for speed and keeping sane.”
“We switched from an old (Lotus Notes) email system to Outlook,” said Dar-Tech. “I was able to purge files and organize things better. We also are transitioning to a new CRM system (dataflo). All opportunities for organizing. I also am a spreadsheet queen.”
While it’s tough to find the time, the work in getting files to where they can be found quickly pays off by improving efficiency.
“When working on a project, I try to set up my organization infrastructure ahead of time (file locations, team member coordination, etc.),” said Striven. “Since I’m only human, I like to take a look at the end of each week to make sure everything is neat and tidy.”
Productivity can be optimized when computers, programs, and other supporting technologies are up to date. Striven then asked: What do you think the average age is of the computers at your office?
“My computer has nine lives. I am on approximately #7,” said author and speaker Dondi Scumaci.
“That is an awesome question. I know in 2020 we had to purchase a lot of new equipment, but I actually don't know,” said DCSC.
Many in the chat said they have newer computers and equipment due to working from home amid the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
“Well, since we all are working remotely and have laptops, they are brand spanking new. We got to pick what we wanted,” said Dar-Tech.
“Ours are just over 2 years old. We replaced everything in 2018,” said Obsidian.
“Your guess is as good as mine. I would like to think somewhere around 5 years old. Still runs well though,” said Crescent Software.
According to Striven, the average age of an office computer in 2020 is about four years. “Converted into human years, that’s pretty old,” said Striven. “It often costs businesses more money to keep their outdated computers than it would be to replace them with newer models.”
The conversation then moved from a technological focus to questioning how to handle structure on a broader scale in the workplace to improve workplace efficiency.
“Because a lot of what I do is repetitive, I do take the time the first time to make sure I don't have to spend a lot of time the next time I need to revisit that project. No need to recreate the wheel,” said SpaceGuard.
“I look at things I do all of the time and how long it takes to do those things. If I can find ways to shorten the time, I do whatever I need to cut out wasted time,” said CVT.
“That's a great time management tip @CvtPlastics and a solid question to ask ourselves. What takes too long?,” Scumaci commented.
“It's always good to track the time spent on your tasks. Efficiency = profit,” said Striven.
“We visit this every week at our staff meeting. We ask the question: How can we do better than last week? It works! We typically find 1-2 things we can make more efficient,” said Dynamatic.
“Communication, Communication, Communication! Project Management Tools, Automation,” said DuraTech.
“One project on my desk or desktop at a time. No multitasking,” said Scumaci. “Micro-processing big tasks into smaller steps to create momentum and identifying my top three priorities every morning.
“Breaking down projects into bite-sized chunks is a great way to boost productivity,” said Striven.
“We use time tracking software for analyzing where our time is spent. We also review systems annually at a minimum to see where we can improve,” said Kiesche.
“We use 5S and other lean management systems. We are such fans that we have free guides and infographics to help others use it easier,” said Graphic Products.
“Sometimes I just have to stop everything I'm doing to regroup so that I can achieve better productivity,” said Obsidian. “Also, so much of what I do is relative to other people. So if I don't get info from someone, I can't finish my part of the project.”
“Use the right tools like marketing automation and a good CRM, training, and sometimes a Six Sigma project,” said Dar-Tech.
“Automation is the name of the game,” said Striven. “Let software take care of some processes for you while you get back to growing your business!”
“Keep a tidy workplace (and keep my browser tab count to a minimum). Proper hiring and training is a huge factor to company-wide efficiency improvements,” said Artus.
“A method that I practice regularly is to assign tasks to employees and groups of employees,” said Striven. “Some tasks take a day, some take a month, and some may not come to fruition until years down the road. Setting goals and sticking to them leads to optimal efficiency.”
How high of a priority do you place on organization skills as a professional asset? Do you have written policies in place for how to properly file digital documents?
I am a very organized person. I hate wasting time. I am organized at work and at home. That is the only way that I get all that I get done in a day. No written policy,” said CVT.
“Organization comes in many forms. BUT, every time I get out an old file, I scan all the contents into a NEW computer folder. We have a TON of file cabinets. Baby steps,” said Nick Rivers of Obsidian.
“Organization is a huge asset. It helps keeps the entire company working efficiently. We do have a written organizational system in our Company Policies and Procedures document,” said NJMEP.org.
“That's fantastic, and I bet it helps your staff so much,” said Striven.
“I only value organizational skills if it is regarding something that others will be involved in. Ex. I don’t care if your desk is messy as long as I'm not looking for a file there,” said Artus.
Striven said it’s important to make sure teams are organized and in unison. Avoiding micromanagement is also important.
“For me, organizational skills are a top priority. Project and program and time management. My current company values that skill set. And that's how we get stuff done,” said Dar-Tech.
“For me, it’s a huge priority. When someone shows extreme attention to detail, it really demonstrates how much they care about their work,” said Striven. “In software, it’s huge. In manufacturing, it’s even bigger considering how many moving parts there are in any one organization.”
If your employees have a suggestion, comment, or complaint about their technology, how is that communication handled?
“We have a suggestion box, there are regular team leader meetings, management meetings, and quarterly ‘Way Forward’ meetings,” said Neil Hussey of Truturn nuclear engineering. “The GM's door is always open for anyone to have a chat, and they do.”
“We are lucky to have an excellent IT team and helpful co-workers,” said Graphic Products. “Many of our crew like to learn about how to resolve issues and we help with keeping tasks organized with software and traditional methods. We handle each issue as it arises, together.”
“Our CFO is a tech whiz. If you ask him, he will try to fix it, or we outsource it to our tech support guy,” said Dar-Tech. “All problems I've had so far have been resolved. It's that other question at work. Organization and responsiveness.”
Having a team of eager-beavers ready to help in any way possible is what every business needs, said Striven.
“This is where deep business empathy plays a huge role,” said Scumaci. “Understanding the needs of the business and partnering to meet those needs. When people with strong technical skills add that perspective, they have a tremendous impact.”
“I always let my staff know that their opinions are welcomed, there’s no such thing as a bad suggestion, said Striven. “Innovation is messy, ideas should always be flowing. Employees can talk to their immediate supervisor as well as requesting an IT support ticket from the appropriate party.”
In the end, all surmised that organization from the smallest computer file to whole-company cohesiveness won’t work without commitment.
Anyone who champions U.S. manufacturing can join in on a new conversation each week on Twitter using the hashtag #USAMfgHour. The chat starts at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time/2 p.m. Eastern. Share positive blog posts, helpful articles, news, important information, accomplishments, events, and more with other manufacturers and supporters from throughout the country.